I never really understood how Brussels sprouts can have such a bad reputation. They just don’t deserve it. To me they’re little jewels I even serve as a side dish on Christmas. But since there are people out there who don’t share my love for them, it’s fun to try and come up with ways of cooking them so that those people might learn to appreciate them as well. A girl can try & dream, right?
This is a (slightly) more caloric way of preparing sprouts that will convert even the biggest hater into a lover. Ok, so maybe that’s painting too pretty a picture, but seriously, this is a fantastic side dish for special occasions. It’s creamy and flavorful. Real comfort food.
Now cream is a really nice addition to any gratin, but it doesn’t give the dish flavor in and of itself (just wide hips and a big bottom:), so I prefer to make a roux based sauce and use cream and milk in stead. You’ll never know the difference, I promise.
1 pound brussels sprouts
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/3 to 1/2 cup cream
2 heaping tbsp flour
1/4 tsp mustard
1/3 cup cheese
1 cup milk
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
1/2 cup cheese
Preheat your oven to 400 (200C).
I started out by thawing some roasted garlic. Always keep some in my freezer. You can use raw garlic as well, but this just gives the gratin a great smokey and slightly nutty flavor. Fantastic combination.
There they are. The stars of the show. My pretty green vegetable jewels.
Peel off any damaged outer leaves, trim the stems and cut them in half.
I preboiled them for about 10 minutes in lightly salted water. Microwave or stovetop. Your pick.
In the mean time you can coarsely chop an onion.
Mashed 4 roasted garlic cloves. Use as many (or little) as you like. If you go for raw garlic I’d use no more than 1 fairly large or 2 small cloves.
Combine 1/2 cup grated cheese with 2 tbsp breadcrumbs. I used Gouda cheese but Gruyere is amazing for this as well. Not so amazing I went out to buy it, though. I, too, have my limits. Save a little cheese for after baking (I’ll explain later).
The sprouts will be done by now. Drain them in a colander and set them aside.
Heat 2 tbsp butter and sautee the onions. When the onions get that milky color (right before turning translucent) add your garlic. Cook until translucent. You can also add some crumbled bacon at this point (if you have any), it gives the dish a whole new dimension!
Get two slightly heaping tbsp flour and half a tsp mustard powder in there. Cook for 2 minutes over low heat.
You could do this with cream alone but I just don’t see the point in that. I don’t want two bites of a side dish -any side dish- to contain as much calories as a regular, full meal. So I ‘only’ use 1/3 to 1/2 cup of cream. It’s plenty creamy, really!
Now slowly add the milk while continuing to stir. Keep a little extra milk nearby in case the sauce needs thinning later on.
Let the sauce simmer until it has a consistency you like and season it. I went for 1/2 tsp salt (you’ll also add cheese later on), a royal amount of pepper, lots of freshly grated nutmeg (that makes all the difference, really) and a heaping 1/4 tsp mustard. Opted for coarse mustard this time.
Melt 1/3 cup grated cheese into the sauce.
Now throw in the sprouts and simmer everything over very low heat (while stirring occasionally) for about 5 minutes.
Lightly grease an oven dish and transfer the gratin. I’ve used two smaller baking dishes so I can serve one on each side of the table. No worries, I have a dish washing machine! He goes by the name of ‘honey‘ :)
Cover everything with a royal amount of cheese/breadcrumb mix.
Put in your preheated oven for 20 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. After 20 minutes add the remaining cheese you saved earlier. Pop everything back in the oven for about 5 minutes. This will create a difference in color and texture. The crunchy golden-brown layer with a little gooey cheese melted on top of it. It’s divine.
This is happiness in a baking dish.